Photo: Buick

The last time Buick launched a Regal GS, the brand wowed us all by offering a six-speed manual transmission. Now, for 2018, that option is gone, but there’s more power, more gears, a design that doesn’t look like a fancied-up Malibu, and most importantly a hatchback.

We heard rumors that the 2018 Regal GS would get a 310 horsepower V6 and an eight-speed auto. It turns out, the first part of those rumors is true: the engine, a 3.6-liter V6, does indeed make 310 ponies and also produces 282 lb-ft of torque.

That power, contrary to the second part of the whispering we heard, gets sent through a nine-automatic, which then moves that power through a standard all-wheel drive system with an “active twin clutch” rear differential.

Photo: Buick

Add unique front and rear fascias, Brembo brakes, a sport-tuned exhaust, 19-inch wheels, and Continuous Damping Control (which Buick says can “adjust suspension damping up to 500 times per second,”) and you may be able to wring a bit of that sweet sporty dynamism out of this new Regal.

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Photo: Buick

On the inside, there’s heated, cooled and massaging “performance seats” with adjustable bolsters, a flat-bottom steering wheel, metal sporty pedals and an available head-up display.

So sure, the new $39,990 2018 Buick Regal GS Sportback doesn’t have a manual like the last one did (to be fair, Buick dropped that in 2015), and even if it does have 51 more horsepower, it’s still less powr than the cheaper Ford Fusion Sport.

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But if this thing drives as well as it looks, maybe there’s still hope in this world for the brand still known for its fluffy burgundy interiors.